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Toledo: 1899

Circa 1899. "Toledo, Ohio. Produce Exchange." Playing next door: The Mutoscope blockbuster "Animal Photographs." View full size.

Circa 1899. "Toledo, Ohio. Produce Exchange." Playing next door: The Mutoscope blockbuster "Animal Photographs." View full size.


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Boody House is still there

And it's still called the Boody House. It escaped the demolition craze.

Odd Font

The font used on the Huyler's sign really stands out. "Bon Bons, Chocolates, Breakfast Cocoa" looks very modern for the time.

Orderly lines

Notice how the spectators on the sidewalk in front of the Produce Exchange are in two orderly rows, one right next to the building and one along the curb line, leaving most of the sidewalk unobstructed. You'd never see such neatness or courtesy today.


I can't help wondering if this is part of the reason they call films "flicks," with all the cards flicking around inside there. Also, I would totally love to see some of those reels (converted to movie files of course), or at least a few of the cards.


I remember, as a young lad, that the mechanical hand-cranked Mutoscope machines were still around in certain places like in resort pavilions or at carnivals, and that sometimes, if you didn't keep cranking, the reel of pictures would spring back to the beginning.

I have a vivid memory of being at Playland Beach in Westchaster County, N.Y., at a company outing almost 70 years ago, and my dad holding me up while I looked into an electrically operated machine based on the Mutoscope principle, at a "Popeye" cartoon, and being totally frustrated because I couldn't distinguish the animated action of the cartoon. My eyes must have been out of sync with the film.

One in a million

If you look closely, you will see quite a few bicycles in this scene, including the one on the corner with a lady rider. A bit less than 15 years earlier, the "safety" bike with two low wheels, chain, and most of the trappings of the modern bike had been invented. By 1899, about a million bicycles a year were being manufactured with a value at more than $31 million.

For more info, check out the The Bicycle Museum!

Penny Arcade on Main Street USA

I remember the Penny Arcade on Main Street, Disneyland (Calif) with its rows of Mutoscopes just as shown in the picture. Even in the 50's and 60's a penny was a rather token fee, but it was part of the historic ambience and someplace you could linger awhile with merely pocket change. Sadly, the Arcade went to video games or some such a couple of decades back. Ars Gratia Pecunium.

More victims of Toledo's urban renewal programs

Built in 1878 and demolished in 1984.


This is a glimpse at the prehistory of the motion picture business. The Mutoscope was an early competitor to Edison's Kinetoscope. Like the Kinetoscope, it was a stand-alone, single-viewer coin-operated projector. The technology was simpler than Edison's, which gave the Mutoscope an edge. The viewer operated a crank that rotated cards on a reel. In the earliest machines, a reel of 800 or more cards provided about a minute's entertainment. Mutoscopes with different content were lined up in exhibition parlors like the one shown here in Toledo.

Amazingly, Mutoscopes were manufactured until 1949 as the mainstay of slightly-disreputable peep-show arcades. Some survived in England until 1971, when they wouldn't work with new UK coinage. Movies had long since taken the road pioneered by the Lumiere Brothers in 1895, with film projection on a screen that could be viewed by a group seated in a theater.


Isn't that Klinger's Grandfather looking out of the third floor window? Nope, I was fooled by the dress.

The boody house and Huylers

The boody house was very popular as can be seen here.

And here is a trading card for huyler's Chocolates.


Looks like a band

At first I thought the people on the sidewalk were lining up for the Mutoscope. But they all seemed to be facing toward the crowded street scene. When I got out my trusty magnifying glass I spied what appears to be musicians in white uniforms. Reminiscent of the old timey bands they used to have marching down Main Street at Disneyland. Also, I could just make out what looks like a large picture of a woman on the right side of the crowd in the street. Perhaps the band and the photo were part of a promotion for the Mutoscope exhibit. Wikipedia is great for learning about things such as the Mutoscope.

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